Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

London Murders: Statistics Theory Shows Numbers Are Predictable

Date:
March 19, 2009
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
A leading statistician claims that the number of murders in London last year was not out of the ordinary and followed a predictable pattern. His report argues that shocking headline numbers are not as surprising as one might think.

Leading statistician Professor David Spiegelhalter claims that the number of murders in London last year was not out of the ordinary and followed a predictable pattern. Spiegelhalter's report, published today in Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society, argues that shocking headline numbers are not as surprising as one might think.

Violence in London attracts headlines. After four people were murdered in separate incidents in London on July 10th, 2008, BBC correspondent Andy Tighe said "To have four fatal stabbings in one day could be a statistical freak." But could it? On July 28th thelondonpaper had the front-page headline: "London's murder count reaches 90". But Professor Spiegelhalter states that this number was predictable.

"Murders in London follow a random pattern that makes certain aspects predictable and so we can fairly accurately predict the number of murders there will be as the year progresses," explains Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. "We focused on London for this report as there is a general feeling, often driven by the media, that over the last 12 months murders have increased more than would be expected."

Spiegelhalter continues, "We counted how many murders occurred on each day over a three-year period. Four murders on the same day in London would be expected to occur about once every three years, and it has done. Seven days without a murder should occur about six times a year, and it does." Each murder is an unpredictable event, and the report does not imply that specific events can be predicted, only that the overall patterns are remarkably predictable. "Tragic though every murder is, these numbers are not surprising, and there's no evidence of an increasing murder rate."

The study, which looked at the pattern of murders between April 2004 and March 2007, also shows that on around 64% of days we can expect there to be no murders at all. Each year the London Metropolitan Police record around 170 homicides and there has been little change over the last five years.

The Significance report was written in conjunction with the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC) set up by the Prime Minister to consider public risk and responses to it. Rick Haythornthwaite, Chair of the RRAC, commented: "There seems to be a misconception that in 2008 London's murder rate suddenly rose; what this article shows is that in fact the numbers have remained fairly stable for the last five years. Statistical evidence must inform any decision making. Those in authority need to remain level headed and offer the general public a thoughtful, proportionate response. Sensible decisions can be made whilst never forgetting that each individual case is of course shocking and a tragedy for those affected."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Spiegelhalter D., Barnett A. London murders: a predictable pattern? Significance, 2009; 6 (1): 6-9 DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-9713.2009.00334.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "London Murders: Statistics Theory Shows Numbers Are Predictable." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317201131.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2009, March 19). London Murders: Statistics Theory Shows Numbers Are Predictable. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317201131.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "London Murders: Statistics Theory Shows Numbers Are Predictable." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317201131.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) The Intercept published an article Monday profiling what the online publication called NSA's very own Google of personal data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ralph Lauren Gets Into Wearables Game With 'Polo Tech'

Ralph Lauren Gets Into Wearables Game With 'Polo Tech'

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) Ralph Lauren, partnering with OMsignal, is testing out new biometric-reading shirts called "Polo Tech" on ball boys at the U.S. Open. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Makes Twitch Worth $1 Billion To Amazon?

What Makes Twitch Worth $1 Billion To Amazon?

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) Amazon is reportedly about to purchase Twitch, a streaming service for video game players, but why? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins